Editor’s note: Public affairs commentator, Promise Emmanuel, writes on the seemingly unending controversy involving the senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Dino Melaye, in the Nigerian Senate. Senator Melaye has been in the news frequently in recent times for his political disagreements with both the Kogi state and federal government, and his indictment by the police.
We as indigenes claim joint ownership of Kogi state and none of us can claim to be more Kogi than the other.
In fairness, this is what the administration of Governor Yahaya Bello stands for and why it has consistently tried to democratise access to all the opportunities, assets and resources of Kogi state to all Kogites. Beyond that is the basic rule of law which guarantees equality before the law and freedom from bias to all Nigerian citizens.
This is why I am pained any time a Kogite, especially a youth, makes believe that privileges should be a buffer against the consequences of one’s own actions. It is navel-gazing. Unfortunately, every time the system has handed a politically exposed person his just desserts, they are those among us who will take up the matter as a case of victimisation. The running battle between Senator Dino Melaye and the police has not been different kettle of fish.
In the last couple of months, Dino Melaye, the senator representing Kogi West has come face to face with the radioactive fallout from his own toxic actions. This is nothing strange, one would say. People are forever paying for their wrongdoings.
Unfortunately, in Dino’s case, people are blaming the Nigerian police, President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Yahaya Bello, anyone and everyone but himself for the long overdue perfectly proper legal payback coming to him.
The funny thing is that majority of those selling this story of ‘Victimised Dino’ narrative are very much aware of his litany of offences, any of which would send a less connected individual to years of prison without protest from any quarter.
Those who are genuinely ignorant can also find out details of any of the matters involving the senator in just five minutes of research on the internet.
Dino Melaye has certainly not had a colourful career since he became a federal legislator in Nigeria, moreso since his stint in Senate of the 8th Assembly. He has careened from one shameful episode to another without loss of enthusiasm. His constituency is so mortified his people do expressly arm-open to recalling him. He tramples over laws and norms with equal abandon and exudes the careless confidence of one who believes he can get away with anything. He does anyway, with fraudulent people backing him always.
No matter what he does, he is reinforced by a support base which has proven incapable of interrogating his behaviour. Whether for gain or expediency, and no matter how outrageous his conduct, this group will always fawn over him, exonerate him, then find another suitable figure to blame for him. Despite all the contrary evidence, they will persist in pushing the victim narrative for him.
It is safe then to conclude that such persons have a view of current affairs in Nigeria generally, and Kogi state particularly, which is jaundiced by political resentment and difficult to displace, even by facts. No wonder the man, emboldened by this captive cheer-leading squad, fancies himself a modern day cross between Harry Houdini and Simon ‘The Saint’ Templar, and misbehaves accordingly.
For those who are not afraid of the truth or its detractors, Senator Dino Melaye is nothing short of a bull in a china shop to Nigeria’s democracy. Notwithstanding his occasional impassioned speeches on the floor ostensibly espousing matters of interest to the masses, the man is a confirmed demagogue whose fluid loyalties always coalesce on the side of vested interests every time push comes to shove.
A full exploration into the ruinous political career of the senator, particularly on the federal stage, would have to go way back beyond a decade and require nothing less than a full biography. Nobody has that kind of time to waste, least of all this writer. However, an exploratory foray can be accommodated, if only to highlight the more disastrous episodes of consistent deviance and the attendant hypocrisy which runs through Dino’s legislative career like a crack through the length of a poorly set out building.
For a politician who has his name on a US Government report on the politically motivated assassination of Victor Obafaiye, Dino Melaye does carry on like there is no tomorrow. See paragraph 23 at (https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100498.htm.) And why not? The former PDP government was only too happy to sweep the matter under the carpet. He was their errand boy in the House of Representatives, and subsequently proved very useful in burying ginormous amounts of sleaze.
As a federal lawmaker, he was a prominent player in the #EttehGate crisis which rocked the House of Representatives over the former speaker’s alleged official corruption involving hundreds of millions of naira. Melaye threw himself with gusto into the ensuing brawls which claimed the life of another lawmaker, Dr. Aminu Safana, in 2007.
Melaye remains remarkably unacquainted with remorse over that incident, even today. Despite the presence of high school students on excursion to the House, he fought with such glee that when it finally ended, a picture of him with his clothes torn to shreds flashing an ecstatic goofy grin became the iconic invariable any time the media needs a stock image for a story on irresponsible politics, politicians or both.
By her own accounts, Melaye relentlessly battered his wife of 10 years and finally drove her from their matrimonial home at gunpoint. Ditto the live-in lover he replaced her with. That one fled for dear life and sanity within the year.
With such a track record of sadistic violence against women, Melaye does have a lot of nerve sitting in a Senate which legislates, among other things, on the rights of women. It is no wonder that Senator Oluremi Tinubu wasted no time in seeking police protection when he threatened her with ra*e and assault on the floor of the 8th Senate.
A shocking corollary of Melaye’s verbal attacks on Senator Tinubu was that her husband, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, dared him to lay a finger on his wife. Other foot-soldiers of the national leader of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) took it a step further and banned Dino from setting foot in the south =west upon pains of unnamed consequences. Foolhardy man-child that he is, he did anyway.
He took a flight to Lagos, carefully chose a time when the Tinubus’ Bourdillon neighbourhood was deserted and recorded himself hurrying past. He posted the video on social media after his safe departure from Lagos and touted it as proof of his bravery and their cowardice.
If Dino Melaye’s antics were limited to just the bad comedy and devoid of criminality, those who may be interested can laughing at the bad jokes and that will be that. However the senator is an intensely wicked soul who can do anything and everything for political advantage. He fears political irrelevance more than God. This is clear in the godless things he is willing to do to win in politics.
On April 15, 2017 the nation woke up to viral news of an assassination attempt on Senator Dino Melaye at his country home of Aiyetoro-Gbede, Ijumu local government area of Kogi state. The media reported how unknown gunmen shot at Melaye’s home for more than an hour destroying part of the house and damaging vehicles parked in the premises. According to the senator, his life was spared only by divine providence.
He fingered several political opponents as behind the attack and the police quickly arrested them and detained them for weeks. Before long the senator was widening the dragnet to capture anyone whose political profile threatened him, including Edward Onoja, the chief of staff to the governor of Kogi state. By his own confession, he even thought of roping in Governor Yahaya Bello himself, but later thought better of it to avoid biting off more than he could chew.
On June 6, 2017 the assassination story unravel as saharareporters.com obtained and ran an audio recording of a GSM call between Melaye and Mohammed Audu one of his political associates in which the senator admitted to setting up the whole thing.
‘Melaye, speaking mostly in Hausa, reveals to Muhammed that the assassination story was carefully orchestrated to rope in his opponent, and how his access to the highest echelons of the police facilitated his effort to frame “Edward” in the alleged plot to assassinate him.’
In the end, the police lost its case against the accused persons and turned on Melaye whom they charged with giving of false information. Of course, that must be preliminaries. He still has to explain who he procured to shoot up his house and where he got them got the guns and ammo. This is how the wickednes he concocted for others overturned on his own head.
While the assassination attempt was still raging in the press, it also became news that even Melaye’s Senate seat was secured by bribing the judge who decided the case filed at the tribunal against his ‘win’.
I am sure if the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) or the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) should decide today to prosecute Dino Melaye for electoral offences and corrupt practices respectively, there will be those who will claim he is being victimised for confronting the government at the centre and in his home state of Kogi.
Even if his electoral ‘win’ were not so irredeemably tainted by those documented allegations of bribery and corruption, the recent scandal over what academic certificates he actually obtained from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria still cast a shadow on his basic qualification to sit in the Senate representing anyone much less the proud people of Kogi West. Till today, it remains unclear why Dino holds a B.A Geography while others were issued a B.Sc. Geography by the University. The prestigious institution appear to have ratified whatever document he holds for the moment, but it is just a matter of time before this ‘certificate fraud’ rears up its head again.
In addition to everything else, Senator Dino Melaye has remained the chief agent of destabilisation in Kogi state and Kogi politics generally. Last year one person was killed at an unauthorised rally he held to protest his recall by his constituents. Without informing the police who are mandated to provide security at the venue of such charged political events, Dino proceeded to call out Kogi State Polytechnic students. The event degenerated into a confrontation and when the dust cleared a young man lay dead. The police blamed him for the tragedy, but he couldn’t care less.
He also tried his best to provoke a violent incident between his bodyguards and the governor’s security detail at last year’s Kabba Day celebrations. The breach of protocol and deliberate attempt to insult the No. 1 citizen of the state and undisputed leader of the APC, a party to which Dino allegedly belongs, was only averted by the governor’s maturity. His Excellency, already in Kabba wisely decided to let Dino have the venue to himself and stayed back in his hotel. After much grandstanding and fighting with himself he departed, disappointed and bragging that ‘they’ were afraid. To the good people of Kabba, it was good riddance to bad rubbish.
The funny thing is that this same Dino assured us at Governor Yahaya Bello’s inauguration that His Excellency was the ‘God-ordained governor of Kogi state.’ That Kogites ‘voted for (the late) Prince Abubakar Audu but God voted for Yahaya Bello.’ He capped it off by saying that ‘anyone fighting Bello is fighting God.’ Yet he wonders today why God has baptised him with too many battles since he started fighting his governor. Somebody should remind him again of the power of the tongue.
As a member of the current Senate, Dino Melaye has carried on in the belief that consequences are for ordinary Nigerians, not privileged elites like himself. He somehow forgot that the PDP is no longer in power, and that impunity commands less immunity nowadays. The current attitude of the Nigerian police which insists on bringing him to trial for a shopping list of heinous offences must indeed be a rude awakening for him.
Of course, if he were not such a narcissist, he would have learnt from the experience of bigger fish than him who are undergoing prosecution under the Buhari administration for breaking the law. His inability to adjust to the new realities where no one is above the law is therefore the genesis of his current trouble with the police.
Far from being victimised, it is Melaye who has long made the Nigerian police his whipping boy. He has tried to embarrass the force any chance he gets, and it is a rare week indeed that passes without screaming headlines like Melaye dribbles police, escapes from custody. Each episode earned him accolades from his groupies and it appears like he began to do it for the applause, both offline and online.
To Kogites who have to cringe in shame at his unending stream of erratic nonsense, the senator is the proverbial blot on the escutcheon. To the honest citizen who just wants the country to work, it is indeed refreshing to see the police holding an elite, albeit such a poor specimen of it, to account for his sins. To his groupies alone is he a victim of powerful forces who supposedly has nothing better to do than chase after their idol.
The senator himself seem to have known for a while that his day of reckoning was coming. He has alluded to it in many speeches and tried to sell the public the lie that when he is finally arrested, it would be because he fought for the masses against the alleged misrule of Buhari or Bello. For the avoidance of doubt, Dino Melaye was arrested because credible police investigations place him at the centre of a vicious gang of robbers, kidnappers and thugs who have been terrorising Kogi and environs.
Though the police have received untold insults in the process of investigating and building a case against Dino they appear resolute this time that the law must take its course. He in return desperately employed every every trick in his bag to make sure he was not taken into custody. Matters came to a head during the week after the Nigerian Immigration Service foiled his attempt to flee the country and the police went all out to arrest him.
Rumour has it that his attempted flight from justice was informed by powerful protectors who had been allowed to review parts of the body of evidence the police had against him and frankly informed him that things were not looking good. The alleged game plan was to spirit him out of the country under subterfuge of official Senate business then he will refuse to return claiming political persecution, and seeking asylum if necessary.
Once the senator realised that his plan to leave the country had collapsed he holed up in his Maitama mansion and refused to yield to the police. The police then mounted a siege of his house and a standoff lasting several hours ensued. It only ended when he was informed the police were reinforcing to storm the house and he was left with no option but to turn himself in.
The rest is history, that is, if the various press reports of the incident are to be believed. He tried to escape when the police van carrying him was attacked en route Lokoja for his arraignment and ended up in hospital where he currently lies, no doubt nursing his imaginary injuries, enjoying the discomfiture of the police and plotting his next kettle of mischief.
In rounding off, one cannot relay all the instances of emptiness, pettiness, childishness and wickedness demonstrated by Senator Dino Melaye as he continues to leave a trail of damaged people and property in his wake, like a train wreck. One can only pray that his constituents will do everyone the favour of recalling him home and consigning him to a much-deserved obscurity where he can no longer do any harm.
Still, he told us that he speaks truth to power, but today, truth is speaking him to law and responsibility. For those who have been asking what Dino has done, follow this commentary and verify the sources yourself.
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